First Hasselblad photographs of the Earth from space

Space Mission
Mercury-Atlas 9, 15-16 May 1963

Godon Cooper

Photo Description
Vintage gelatin silver prints on fibre-based paper, 25.6 x 20.4 cm (10 x 8 in), with NASA captions on versos, (NASA Headquarters)

Two views of Earth from space taken by Gordon Cooper from inside his Faith 7 capsule, showing high plateau near Himalayas (63-MA9-190) and China (63-MA9-197), partly overcast by clouds and capturing the curvature of the Earth.

In contact with Cape Canaveral Cooper light-heartedly complained ‘Man, all I do is take pictures, pictures, pictures!’ Hasselblad cameras were introduced to NASA during the Project Mercury by Walter Schirra, a photography enthusiast, who was not able to take many pictures during his preceding MA-8 flight. Cooper’s much longer mission (22 orbits) allowed him to carefully frame his pictures and return wonderful photographs of the Earth. The Hasselblad 500C 70mm cameras with an 80mm focal lens were adjusted for use in space, stripped, and a new film magazine was constructed to allow for 70 exposures, instead of the 12. From this point Hasselblad cameras became instrumental in obtaining Earth and lunar photography from space.